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Seminar 11/5/2014 - Georg Steinhauser, Colorado State University: Radionuclide Analysis in Environmental Research after the Fukushima Nuclear Accident

This is a joint seminar with STEP and PEI.

Abstract: The Fukushima nuclear accident will remain in public memory as one of the worst environmental disasters of the 21st century. In my presentation, I will focus on radionuclide monitoring after the accident and its challenges. Radionuclide monitoring is essential to understanding radioecological consequences and effects on food safety. In this context I will also discuss legal implications such as the regulatory limits of radionuclides in food.  Monitoring also is central to forensic work that may help understand the accident and its chronology. To date most of radionuclide monitoring has focused on volatile and ?-emitting radionuclides such as 137Cs, 131I, and 132Te. Relatively little work has been done on the monitoring of “difficult” radionuclides such as 90Sr or plutonium that are highly health relevant but much more laborious to measure compared with ?-emitters. We succeeded in obtaining unique sample material from inside the “exclusion zone” around the Fukushima power plant that was analyzed for 90Sr and plutonium. Our analyses revealed relatively high concentrations of 90Sr; however, these activity concentrations were exceeded by 137Cs by usually 3 to 4 orders of magnitude. In two spots within the exclusion zone we could also prove environmental presence of plutonium from Fukushima. Our studies show that, although the damaged Fukushima reactors emitted primarily volatile radionuclides, small but detectable amounts of less volatile radionuclides such as radiostrontium and plutonium have been emitted from the reactors, which was not expected for this accident scenario. The mechanisms of release of these radionuclides are not yet fully understood.

All seminars are held on Wednesdays from 12:00 noon-1:00 p.m. in the Bowen Hall Auditorium Room 222. A light lunch is provided at 11:30 a.m. in the Bowen Hall Atrium immediately prior to the seminar.

Location: Bowen Hall Auditorium

Date/Time: 11/05/14 at 12:00 pm - 11/05/14 at 1:00 pm

Category: PRISM/PCCM Seminar Series

Department: PRISM